At a time when UNC-Chapel Hill officials were embarrassed to find that sports agents had infiltrated the football program, the chairman of the university's African and Afro-American Studies Department hired an agent to teach a summer class.
At the time of the class this summer, the agent, Carl Carey Jr., was representing two UNC football players who had been selected in this spring's NFL draft.
Julius Nyang'oro hired Carey to teach a month-long course called Foundations of Black Education in the first summer semester. Carey is a former adjunct professor and academic adviser to football players who left the university in 2002 and started a business advising athletes looking to turn pro.
He became an agent three years later, and today represents one of UNC's biggest gridiron stars: Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.
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Carey's return to campus was a problem for UNC's athletic department, which quickly alerted its academic advisers to not recommend his class. John Blanchard, a senior associate athletic director, said the department did not know Carey had been hired until after the fact.
"Normally I wouldn't be concerned, but I was because of what we've been going through," Blanchard said. Only one athlete, a female, took the class.
UNC-CH's dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Karen Gil, who oversees Nyang'oro and approved Carey's hire, said she did not know he was a sports agent.
"In hindsight," she said in an email message, "it would have been better to know." She did not make herself available for an interview and did not respond to further questions about the hire.
While he was teaching, Carey was trying to retain Robert Quinn as a client. He is now suing Quinn, a first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams, in an attempt to recover nearly $300,000 in loans and advances he said he gave Quinn in advance of a professional contract.
UNC officials say Carey won permission to teach the month-long summer session class because he has the credentials and experience. He has a Ph.D in educational psychology and is teaching a class that he taught 11 years ago as an adjunct professor under Nyang'oro.
But Nyang'oro's decision raises more questions about his connections to football players and an athletic department wracked by a football scandal. Allegations of NCAA violations include an assistant coach taking money from an agent, a former UNC football player who the NCAA considers an agent with access to players in the weight room, and numerous athletes accepting trips, parties and other perks from agents.
That investigation into impermissible benefits and academic misconduct forced 14 players to miss at least one game last season, and seven, including Quinn, sat out the entire season. In July, Chancellor Holden Thorp fired football coach Butch Davis and accepted the retirement of Athletic Director Dick Baddour. UNC-CH has until Sept. 19 to respond to an NCAA notice of allegations, and is scheduled to appear before the association's infractions committee on Oct. 28.
'An atrocious thing'
Nyang'oro is at the center of new questions involving two football players caught up in the scandal. UNC officials say Nyang'oro missed obvious plagiarism in a paper submitted by one of the students, Michael McAdoo. The other, Marvin Austin, entering the university as a freshman in need of remedial writing help, was allowed to take an upper level class taught by Nyang'oro and received a B-plus.
Carey is not accused of any improper activity in connection with the NCAA investigation, and he is in good standing with the state's agent registration requirements. He disclosed the class during an interview about Nyang'oro, whom Carey lists as a reference on his résumé.
Carey said he knew little about Nyang'oro and had little contact with him after leaving UNC in 2002. He said he looks for a professional opportunity each summer and asked Nyang'oro if he could teach the class this summer. He says he told Nyang'oro that he was a sports agent.
"I was there because of my love for teaching students," Carey said. "I was not there for any other purpose but to teach the class."
Nyang'oro, the department chairman since 1992, has not responded to numerous requests for interviews over the past several weeks.
Carole Browne is a Wake Forest University biology professor who recently served as a co-chairman for the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, an alliance of faculty senates from universities that compete in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision. The group has proposed reforms for college athletics.
Browne said hiring a sports agent to teach a class is "absolutely an atrocious thing to do." She said having an agent on campus puts student-athletes at risk of losing their eligibility just by having contact with him.
"It's giving the agent the opportunity to run into students even incidentally, which could generate problems," she said.
ACC associate commissioner for governance and compliance Shane Lyons said there is no NCAA rule against an agent teaching a class on a college campus.
"I understand that concern," Lyons said, "but there's nothing wrong with him being employed by an institution to teach a class."
The agent files suit
Carey touts himself as a sports agent who looks out for athletes and does everything by the book. He said his years as an adviser at UNC showed him there was a serious need for ethical practitioners.
"I got in this business because I was a university administrator who worked with the football team in Carolina ... and I saw what was happening to these men as they made poor choices as they transitioned from the university to professional football," Carey said.
He left Carolina in 2002 for Houston and formed a business advising athletes as they sought to begin their pro careers. He also continued to work in academia, as a retention studies director at the University of Houston for a year, and later as an adjunct psychology professor at Texas Southern University until the end of last year.
Peppers was Carey's first big client. Last year, he represented Peppers as the All-Pro defensive end signed a reported $91.5 million deal to play for the Chicago Bears for six years.
Records with the N.C. Secretary of State's Office show Carey registered as an agent in 2006 and in 2010. By the beginning of this year, he had signed three UNC football players: Bruce Carter, Robert Quinn and Quan Sturdivant.
Sturdivant made a quick switch to another agent, but Carter and Quinn stayed with Carey through the NFL draft in April. Quinn was the 14th pick of the draft, while Carter was a second-round pick.
At the time Carey taught the UNC class, he said Quinn's girlfriend and business manager was questioning Carey's ability to represent Quinn. Quinn and his girlfriend were living in Chapel Hill during the time Carey was teaching the class.
But Carey said he never talked with or visited Quinn during that time, and he said he wasn't aware until later that his business relationship with Quinn was in trouble.
On July 22, Quinn sent a fax saying he had dropped Carey, who in turn sued Quinn, the business manager and two agents who Carey thinks were trying to pry Quinn loose.
In the lawsuit, Carey said Quinn had the potential to sign a $20 million contract to play pro football, which would have provided Carey with a $600,000 cut under the terms of his contract to represent Quinn. The lawsuit is being heard in a U.S. District Court in Texas. Quinn has since signed a four-year contract with the Rams for an undisclosed amount.
A secret letter
Gil said Carey alerted the athletic department that he was teaching a class. As a result, only one of the 15 students who signed up for it was a student-athlete, and she was in an Olympic sport. Carey received $5,400 to teach the class.
Blanchard, the senior associate athletic director, said Carey has been on campus to recruit football players as recently as April 10, 2010. It was "agents day" on the campus. Carey was not one of the three agents the university typically invites to give presentations to student-athletes, but Blanchard said Carey was "made available to four groups of football student-athletes who could visit him for 15 minutes and learn about his services and ask him questions."
UNC spokesman Mike McFarland said in an email message that the deans received an approval letter from Nyang'oro that included Carey's academic credentials and experience and a curriculum vitae.
Regina Stabile, a university attorney, said the documents are not public under the state's personnel law because Carey was considered a university employee while teaching this summer.
Staff writer Ken Tysiac contributed to this report.